Our Year 6 students have just begun their new unit of inquiry: To be global citizens we need to understand, learn from and engage with our neighbours.
So – what else to do but to find out who those neighbours might be? Two classes decided to collaborate on the initial investigation – engaging and communicating with neighbours started very much at home! The children sprawled with their laptops through the open space adjacent to their classrooms – it was a great afternoon of shared learning.
We are an Australian school – to find out what we already knew about geographical location, we tried out the website http://www.maps.com/games/seasia.aspx. It’s a simple tool, but everyone quickly realised that more investigation was needed.
Google Maps provided a good platform for introductory inquiry into the Asia-Pacific area. The students could start from Australia and rotate the map north, east and west to ‘travel’ from country to country, stopping off here and there at places that interested them. Once they knew how to create custom maps, they created markers at different places and added information and images relating to the various places visited. Their curiosity aroused, students realised they would need to need to inquire further. Having a class Google account has the benefit that the various custom maps are now available to all.
This learning engagement improved our students’ geographic knowledge of our region, and gave them a tool to express their learning. We are hoping to deepen their understanding with real communication – via Skype, email, class blogs and Voicethread. They will have lots of questions as they go further into their inquiries. If you live in the Asia Pacific region, we’d love to learn from you, and if you are a teacher, from your students. Interested?